Chinese Canadian Archive Project - What's New?

November 22, 2016 | Suk Yin

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This 1945 graduation photo of nine preschool students, all age five, helps tell the story of Chinese Canadian life in Toronto over the past century. It was taken at the Chinese Canadian Institute located at University and Dundas in the heart of Toronto's old Chinatown

1945 CCI pre-school graduation on University Ave
CCI preschool graduation, 1945  (Courtesy of Mavis Chu Lew Garland)

These second or third generation children, now all 76 years old, are planning a reunion in early December at Toronto Reference Library to reconnect with childhood friends, share old memories and support Toronto Public Library's Chinese Canadian Archive Project. 

CCI Preschool class with teachers Miss MacTavish and Miss Mah,1945 (Photo courtesy of Mavis Chu Lew Garland)

Many of these people are now the guardians of historical documents and photos left by their parents and grandparents and are looking for a place to safely and permanently preserve their family records and make them available to future generations.

Quong Sing First Class Laundry
Quong Sing's First Class Laundry in 1920s    (Photo courtesy: Valerie Mah)


Head tax certificate $500 - Jim Ng 1918
Chin Ng paid $500 Head Tax to join his father in Canada in 1918. The amount paid was sufficient to buy two houses at that time. (Photo courtesy of Jim Rosenthal)

Since the inception of the Chinese Canadian Archive Project last April, we have had the opportunity to meet many "low wah kiu" or "old timers" who have generously shared their stories of perseverance, joy, success and community contributions as Chinese Canadians living and working in Toronto.

First Chinese Canadian Woman received Order of Canada 1976
Jean Lumb -- the first Chinese Canadian woman to receive the Order of Canada, 1976   (Photo courtesy of Arlene Chan)

On Tuesday, November 29, at 7 pm, Toronto Public Library is hosting a special event for the Chinese Canadian Archive in the Toronto Reference Library Atrium. Author Judy Fong-Bates is our keynote speaker and she will discuss the relationship between the themes of her book, The Year of Finding Memory and TPL's Chinese Canadian Archive. You will also have the chance to hear from community members sharing family stories and personal experiences. You can also get a first peek at some of the unique items already donated to the Archive.

The Chinese Canadian Archive will collect and preserve documents, photographs and memorabilia which reflect the rich heritage of the Chinese Canadian community in Toronto. Please join us to learn more about this exciting project.